I want to start today’s sermon by addressing the elephant in the room and that is the terrible reputation churches and pastors have in our culture in regards to money. I humbly acknowledge and repent for all the manipulation, greed, lying, mismanagement and stealing that has be done in the name of God.
First, I repent on behalf of the self-centered pastors who not only benefit from the church in the way of tithes and offerings but also by charging for everything from anniversary dinners to over priced sermons, books, concerts and conferences. Jesus said that whatever we freely receive, we should freely give (Matthew 10:8). I am deeply sorry that in many churches today godly people can be faithful in tithes and offerings and still be made to feel guilty if they do not spend their money on every additional thing the church promotes. Peter considered this kind of pimping in the pulpit, “pursuing dishonest gain” (1 Peter 5:2-3).
Second, I repent for self-centered churches that only look out for the interest of those who are well off inside their walls. As if the church was designed to be a clique for trendy hipsters or a social club for the upper class. James said by their discriminating of the poor and favoring of the rich they have, “become judges with evil thoughts” (James 2:4). They will spend thousands of dollars on their buildings and programs to entertain the overfed lazy sheep, yet they hardly do anything for the community around them.
At the most they may have one community day a year (to ease their conscience), yet week after week they offer no help to the poor (no rides, clothing or food), the single mom and the fatherless kids (who are related to the widow and the orphan in the Bible), the troubled youth, nor the struggling middle class family. I remember being in a similar kind of church where their budget was close to one million dollars a year- yet they turned me down for van and asked that we stopped picking up kids from the inner city. I understand teaching responsibility and giving hand’s up and not hand’s out- but dear God, where is the compassion of Jesus in churches like this; especially in a city hurting city like Chicago?
Lastly, I repent for every cowardly lying Satan-inspired leader that instead of resigning from their church and pursuing a criminal life, actually remained in the Body of Christ to rob God’s people of their money. I pray that they get arrested and sent to jail for breaking the laws of both God and man and don’t get out until they have returned all the money (to the last penny) to all the people they have stolen it from. Jesus said that this is the righteous punishment (in this lifetime) for those who proudly act in greed and oppress others (Luke 12:59).
Please hear again the words of the Lord to the ungodly shepherds in Ezekiel 34:1-10, “1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.
7 “‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.”
My prayer is, “God bring justice to your church so that righteous leaders may govern and humbly fulfill your two “Great Commands” (love God and people) and the great Commission (disciple the nations)!”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27, “24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES DEFINITION: The commands and practices a disciple “show” in their life to “grow” spiritually because they “know” God.
TWELVE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES:
- Bible Reading
- Family Order
- Scripture Memorization
- Soul Journaling
- Praying & Worshipping
- Discipleship & Christlikeness
- Christian Service
- Public Evangelism
- Spiritual Meditation
- Financial Stewardship
- Christian Fellowship
- Church Involvement
1 Timothy 6:6-10;17-19, “6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
FOUR WAYS TO BE A GOOD FINANCIAL STEWARD
Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
FINANCIAL STEWARDSHIP: The wise management of everything God has entrusted us with.
- BE A TITHER: Give 10% of your total income to God, Genesis 14:18-20.
- Key Points: The tithe was “implied” with Cain and Abel; “revealed” to Abraham, “established” in the Law of Moses, and is still “relevant” for today. It comes with a “blessing and curse,” it must be “qualitative,” a “priority,” and a “faithful” practice in our lives. The tithe “advances” the Kingdom of God, tests our “maturity,” breaks the attitude of greed through “obedience,” is “mandated” for all, and brings us into “partnership” with God and His church.
- Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
- GIVE OFFERINGS REGULARLY: A gift to God after your tithes, 2 Corinthians 9:7.
- Key Points: The offering is a gift to God “after” the tithe and is given in a “variety” of ways. God said it should be a “generous” “seed” given with a “cheerful” heart from personal “sacrifice.” Offerings will always bring “thanksgiving” to God because they go towards “charity” and ministry “supplies.” We give offerings in “obedience” to God’s Word, “sharing” with others our blessings with a “gracious” heart by “imitating” Jesus and revealing where our “treasure” really is.
- Malachi 3:7-9, “7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ 8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me.”
- MANAGE THE REST WELL: Be a faithful and fruitful servant, Matthew 25:23.
- Key Points: God has called us to be “managers” that are “committed” to stewarding “whatever” “gifts” we have “received” from Him. We are to be “wise,” “fruitful,” “faithful,” “trustworthy,” “multiplying,” and “shrewd” stewards. Living “debt free” and “generous” lives providing an “inheritance” for our children and grand children.
- Acts 2:44-45, “44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”
- OVERCOME FINANCIAL TRAPS: Don’t fall for deceitfulness of money, Mark 4:19.
- Key Points: By the power of the Holy Spirit and the guidance of the Word of God I will not be hindered by “greed,” “laziness,” “unbelief,” “discouragement,” or “fatigue” in my giving to God. I will overcome “bitterness,” “impatience,” “pride,” “fear,” “idolatry,” and live a life of obedience in my finances.
- Matthew 6:33-34, “33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
- For more biblical teaching on the above subjects read, “The Disciple’s Giving Book.”
- Check out Dave Ramsey for help setting up a Christian based budget.
Make all you can, give all you can and save all you can! (John Wesley)